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Highly infectious COVID variant found in Stanislaus

The COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa has made it to Stanislaus County, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency reported.

Two cases of the variant have been diagnosed in two county residents. The SCHSA said the two cases are not travel related.

This variant has been found to be more infectious than other variants or the original strain. It has a 50% higher transmission rate.

“The detection of the B.1.351 variant in Stanislaus County is concerning, and it is another reminder that we must continue to follow all guidance to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, Stanislaus County Public Health Officer. “Many people remain to be vaccinated in our community, and we must continue to stop the spread, using the tools that have proven to work throughout this pandemic. It is vital for everyone, including those who have been vaccinated, to continue to follow recommendations that prevent the spread of disease, which include testing, masking, distancing, and getting the vaccine.”

The SCHSA did not provide any information about the two individuals diagnosed with the variant.

The variants were discovered by random sampling.

“Labs have been pulling samples throughout the state for surveillance of variants,” said SCHSA spokesperson Kamlesh Kaur. “We were informed of two cases in our county. This indicates that this particular variant is in our community.”

As many areas lift restrictions, Public Health reminds the public that although many activities are now permitted, they are higher risk. Community members are asked to continue following these safety guidelines to keep everyone safe and protected from COVID-19:

1. Get Tested. Testing remains a vital surveillance tool in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and helps us advance to the next tier by improving the overall percent positive tests and the State’s “adjustment” of the County’s case rate.

2. Wear a mask. Wearing a mask when in public or around those who are not a part of your household will help stop the spread.

3. Maintain a safe distance from others. Keeping a safe distance from those who do not live with you is effective at keeping the coronavirus away.

4. Avoid crowds. The fewer people you encounter or interact with, the lower the chance the virus will spread. Move activities outdoors. Outdoor activities are far safer than indoor activities due to better ventilation.

5. Stay Home when sick.